Emerging Health Benefits Of Vitamin D

Recent studies in vitamin d have uncovered numerous benefits of the vitamin, which can be fortified in foods to help consumers meet recommended intakes. By Farah Nazurah

01 Improves Gut Microbiota And Metabolic Syndrome

Keeping high levels of vitamin D in the body prevents metabolic syndrome to progress alongside underlying disturbances in gut bacteria, according to research collaboration between Sichuan University in China and Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in the US. Another research on vitamin D from the Medical University of Graz in Austria revealed that the vitamin may increase bacterial richness in the upper gastrointestinal tract. The two studies demonstrated the importance of the vitamin in improving overall gut health.

02 Healthier Muscles Gained

Researchers at the University of Birmingham have shown that increasing the levels of active vitamin D can help optimise muscle strength in humans. It may be that body fat is linked to increased levels of inactive vitamin D, but lean mass is the key for elevated levels of active vitamin D. Further research is necessary to understand how vitamin D affects the muscles, particularly with regards to supplmenting vitamin D intake and how it can enhance muscle strength.

03 Role Of Vitamin D In Acute Respiratory Infections

Vitamin D supplements protect against acute respiratory infections including colds and flu, according to a study by the Queen Mary University of London. It was found that the protective effects of vitamin D supplementation are strongest when given daily or weekly rather than in more widely spaced doses. Vitamin D supplementation is safe and inexpensive, so it can be highly costeffective to supplement the vitamin and reduce acute respiratory infections.

04 Combats Ageing And Extends Lifespan

Researchers from the Buck Institute have found that vitamin D increases longevity and slows developments of numerous age-related diseases—such as heart disease, depression, obesity, as well as breast, prostate and colon cancer. The vitamin plays other roles which do not relate to bone health, and could be key in slowing down the ageing process in humans.

05 Vitamin D’s Relation In Reducing Obesity

Another significant benefit of vitamin D is in reducing cardiometabolic risk, according to the Pediatric Obesity Program in the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medicine in New York. Sufficient vitamin D intake could significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease that is associated with vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D Significantly Improves Gut Health And Metabolic Syndrome

A diet high in fat can trigger metabolic syndrome, which is a set of symptoms that are risk factors for diabetes and heart disease. Having sufficient levels of vitamin D has been associated with a lower risk of autoimmune diseases.

A research collaboration between Sichuan University in China and Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in the US has revealed that keeping vitamin D levels high in the body through diet, supplementation or sun exposure is beneficial for both the prevention and treatment of metabolic syndrome.

The mice study demonstrated that metabolic syndrome seems to be able to progress only when vitamin D deficiency is present alongside underlying disturbances in gut bacteria. This has yet to be tested on humans but should they show similar findings , supplentation of the vitamin omay prove to be an affordable and practical way to even prevent metabolic syndrome.

Causal Role Of Vitamin D And Metabolic Syndrome

The study demonstrated huge strides in understanding the causal role of vitamin D and the syndrome. Insufficient vitamin D intake was found to antagonise metabolic syndrome caused by a high fat diet in mice, with the amount tested on the mice equivalent to the dietary recommendations for humans.

The study therefore showed that a diet high in fat affects the balance between good and bad bacteria in the gut; it gave rise to a fatty liver and marginally increased blood sugar level in the mice. Insufficient vitamin D intake worsens the imbalance in gut flora, as it causes a decrease in the production of defensins, which are anti-microbial molecules vital in maintaining a healthy gut microbiota.

The researchers believe that keeping vitamin D levels high without reaching the upper limit (excessive level of vitamin D which leads to toxicity) is therefore beneficial for the prevention and treatment of metabolic syndrome.

Improved Bacterial Richness In The Gut

Another research on vitamin D from the Medical University of Graz in Austria revealed that vitamin D3 may increase bacterial richness in the upper gastrointestinal tract and reduce opportunistic pathogens.

The research reported that high daily doses of vitamin D3 in humans for five weeks led to significant reductions in bad gut bacteria, such as Pseudomonas which may cause infections in those with weakened immune systems; Shigella which causes infection of the colon; and Escherichia (E. coli) of which certain strains could cause severe anemia, kidney failure, urinary tract infections or other types of infections.

“The marked reduction in gammaproteobacteria, which include typical opportunistic pathogens and the increase in phylotype richness, supports the beneficial effect of a high-dose vitamin D3 supplementation on the human gut microbiome,” wrote the researchers.

Both research studies therefore demonstrate that high levels of vitamin D (without reaching the upper limit) can improve gut health, reduce bad bacteria in the gut, and lessen the risk of metabolic syndrome. When it comes to supplementing vitamin D, all forms are not created equal. Check the supplement facts to ensure vitamin D is in the form of Cholecalciferol (or vitamin D3) as this most absorbable and active form of vitamin D.

Vitamin D More Than A Sunshine Vitamin, Extends Lifespan

The benefits for vitamin D are numerous and extend beyond regulating calcium absorption and promoting bone growth. Vitamin D increases longevity and influences developments related to numerous age-related diseases, according to researchers from the Buck Institute. The study, published in Cell Reports, explained why vitamin D deficiency has been connected to heart disease, depression, obesity, as well as breast, prostate and colon cancer. It examined how vitamin D affects longevity genes in ageing wild-type hermaphrodite worms, which were either given vitamin D3, or placed in the control group.

Linked with longevity genes, vitamin D was found to extend median lifespan of the worms by 33 percent and reduced misfolding of hundreds of proteins which are ageing-related. The results of the study proved a relation between vitamin D and ageing as well as diseases, and it is a stepping stone for future research in exploring vitamin D in a larger context and how it affects human lifespan.

Study Provides Link To Human Disease

The research provides insight on protein homeostasis—the ability of proteins to maintain their shape and function over time. Protein homeostasis in the human body deteriorates with normal ageing, which usually builds up toxic insoluble protein aggregates that result in a number of conditions— Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases, as well as some forms of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

The ageing processes between mammals (including humans), and the worm used in the study are viewed as similar; with the functions of vitamin D regarded to be conserved across species. When vitamin D is converted into its active form, vitamin D3, it removed protein insolubility in the worm and impeded the toxicity caused by human betaamyloid which is linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

“Vitamin D3 reduced the age-dependent formation of insoluble proteins across a wide range of predicted functions and cellular compartments, supporting our hypothesis that decreasing protein insolubility can prolong lifespan,” said Dr Karla Mark, postdoctoral fellow who led the research team.

Vitamin D’s Key Role In Ageing

“Our results demonstrate that dietary D3 reduced the age-dependent formation of insoluble proteins across a wide range of predicted functions and cellular compartments,” wrote the researchers.

The findings revealed that the effects of vitamin D in an organism which does not have bones suggests that the vitamin plays other key roles which do not relate to bone health; it could be key in slowing down the ageing process in humans. The research team plans to further explore the functions of the vitamin to determine how it affects ageing and disease, with the hopes that clinical trials in humans will produce the same result in extending longevity.

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  • Last modified on Wednesday, 28 June 2017 09:56
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